St. John Bar and Restaurant, 26 St. John Street, EC1M 4AY

It probably wouldn’t occur to you that popping into your local Michelin starred restaurant for a pint and a bite to eat is both possible and affordable; but at St John – the home of nose to tail eating – it is. Everything about St John appeals to my tastes from the whitewashed simplicity of the bar and dining room, the stripped down unpretentious service to the menu on the plate and behind the bar.


Take a seat in the restaurant for a 3 course meal with wine and yes you’ll pay the prices that you’d expect for such a feed – and not begrudge a penny – but sit in the bar with a pint of Redemption, Black Sheep or Meantime and you can enjoy a starter or two that makes for the most glorious bar menu you’d ever find. For between £7 and £10 you find yourself with an ever changing choice which may include rarebit, octopus, lamb tongue, brawn, sweetbreads – as I said this is nose to tail. A favourite never failing to satisfy is roast bone marrow – the hot bones served with a parsley salad and toast – you scoop the marrow and spread across the toast. I’m taken back to early drinking memories with my Dad when the landlady would bring out plates of bread and dripping. Yes, this is somewhat more refined but plays to that same appetite for more than just fine cuts. The plate then as now would be eagerly cleared.

As Sunday afternoon stops go they don’t get much better; unless of course they’re finished off with a freshly baked bag of Madeleine and a wander through the streets of Clerkenwell.

St. John Bar and Restaurant, 26 St. John Street, EC1M 4AY

St. John Bar and Restaurant, 26 St. John Street, EC1M 4AY

Old Red Cow, 71-73 Long Lane, Smithfield, EC1A 9EJ

I stuck another pin in the London craft beer map on Friday. Heading to Farringdon via Barbican I stopped by the Old Red Cow on Long Lane. It’s been a while since I’ve last been in and the first since it joined the Dean Swift as a Local Beer House.


Smithfield and the surrounding area has always been one of my favourite places in London. As I’ve alluded to in past posts it’s where I spent my first years in London and still somewhere I can wile away a few hours at the Barbican or just a walk through the old neighbourhood. I usually head up St John Street to the Peasant or across to Clerkenwell Green. With 3 handpumps on the bar and 10 wall mounted taps behind the bar the old haunts have definite competition.


From the board we went for the Camden Town Pale Ale, a perfect start on a hot City day and already a firm favourite. The find of the day was the Redemption Trinity from the handpull. If there’s a beer for a Summer session this is it. Just 3% ABV, Golden in colour, I could just sit and watch the early evening light through it. That is if it wasn’t so damn tasty with its smack of Citrus and Hops. A lazy description perhaps but I’d just encourage you to taste it for yourself.

Old Red Cow, 71-73 Long Lane, Smithfield, EC1A 9EJ

Excelent pub photography courtesy of

Old Red Cow, 71-73 Long Lane, Smithfield, EC1A 9EJ

Giant Robot, 45-47 Clerkenwell Road, EC1

Giant Robot, a Bar come diner, sits on the site of what was Match cocktail bar. It should be just what’s required after an impromptu Clerkenwell crawl, with it’s classic American diner menu. It’s 10pm on a Wednesday when we visit and as they close at 12am we’re well in time for a few more drinks and some food.  We’re told to wait by the bar while a table opens up. Although we can  see one uncleared it doesn’t seem to register with the staff. We dutifully wait. The beer selection is somewhat limited with a small selection on tap backed up by  a Brooklyn Brewery bottle selection, which is perhaps a nod to the origin of such a bar come diner concept.

Finally seated our waitress provides menus and on returning to the table politely and apologetically hurries us along, as we are told the kitchen is closing. After what seemed like an unnecessary wait for the table and hurried service the first impression isn’t great. English and I go for a burger. It’s become a strange habit borne out of years of dining together that we seem to have synced in our choices. As much to stem any jealously when the other has made a superior choice. After a further wait and glances into the open kitchen to see not much going on our food is an anticlimax. The sweet bun is over toasted, flakes covering the plate as we eat, the burger is pretty standard and sin of sins; no gherkin.

After the delights of #Meateasy and the real deal in Brooklyn, at places like Dumont, Giant Robot just doesn’t deliver as expected. Their not alone. I’ve had similar experiences at Diner in Shoreditch and Essex Road where the concept is good but the delivery is lacking. At £20 each for beers and burger you’d expect them to import the full formula to make this work which is just as much about the service as it is about the food.

Giant Robot, 45-47 Clerkenwell Road, EC1M 5RS

Giant Robot, 45-47 Clerkenwell Road, EC1

Great British Ale Festival: Peasant, 240 St. John Street, Clerkenwell, EC1V 4PH

I must have angered the Beer Gods. Yet another Beer Festival that I am unable to enjoy. Visiting the Peasant in Clerkenwell last night the set up had begun for their Great British Ale Festival. It runs from tonight until the 4th of April, but all  I could do was eye the racked beer and flick through the laminated brewery logo’s or as I think I termed them “Beery Porn”, I mean they’re laminated after all.

If the list below wasn’t reason enough they are also starting with a Hog Roast. Ales on offer are:

Castle Rock Brewery – Harvest Pale Ale (3.8%), Nottinghamshire
(2010 CAMRA Supreme Champion Beer of Britain)*

Hopdaemon Brewery – Incubus Bitter (4.0%), Kent

Oakham Ales Brewery – Engine Chaos (4.1%), Cambridgshire

Wells and Young’s – Banana Bread (5.2%), Bedford

Kelburn Brewery – Red Smiddy (4.1%), Renfewshire, Sotland
(SIBA Bronze Award in Best Bitter category)*

Salopian Brewery – Darwin’s Origin (4.3%), Shropshire

Crouch Vale Brewery – Yakima Gold (4.2%) and Santiam Amber (4.3%), Essex

Truman’s Brewery – Runner, (4.2%), East London

Meantime Brewery – Pale Ale (4.2%), Greenwich, London

Fat Cat Brewery – Meow Mild (4.3%), Suffolk

Hadrian & Border Brewery – Secret Kingdom (4.3%), Newcastle

Hop Back Brewery – Entire Stout (4.5%), Wiltshire
( 2011 CAMRA Winter Supreme Champion Beer of Britain)*

Dark Star Brewery – Golden Gate (4.5%) and Festival (5.0%), Sussex

Red Fox Brewery – Wily Old Fox (5.3%), Essex

RCH Brewery – Double Header (5.3%), Somerset

Thornbridge Brewery – Jaipur IPA (5.9%)
(Derbyshire SIBA Bronze in Supreme Beer category & Gold at Brewing Industry International 2011)

AllGates Brewery – Mad Monk (7.1%), Lancashire (SIBA Champion)

Peasant, 240 St. John Street, Clerkenwell, EC1V 4PH

Great British Ale Festival: Peasant, 240 St. John Street, Clerkenwell, EC1V 4PH